Fighter Squadron THREE TWO [VF-32]
Strike Fighter Squadron THREE TWO [VFA-32]
VFA-32 is homeported at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia. The Swordsmen were redesignated VFA-32, from VF-32, in 2005. This reflects their transition training to the F-18E/F Super Hornet. The Swordsmen had previously flown the F-14 Tomcat.
On 04 Jaunary 1989 aircraft (VF-32) from USS John F. Kennedy shot down 2 hostile Libyan Migs. In 1994 Fighter Squadron 32 (VF-32), flying F-14 Tomcats, was onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). VF-32 deployed to Bosnia and the Arabian Gulf, and won the Battle Efficiency Award, the Clifton Award for Maintenance Excellence and the Fleet Fighter Adversary Readiness Program Trophy.
The F-14 carrying the Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) provides a manned tactical reconnaissance capability. The F-14's "Roadmap for the Future" included the incorporation of a digital imaging and data link capability in 24 TARPS pods to provide battle group, joint force, and allied commanders with near real-time imagery for the detection and identification of tactical targets, and immediate threat and bomb damage assessment. This unique capability first deployed with VF-32 on Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in November 1996.
Teamwork paid off 08 August 1998 when an F-14 Tomcat assigned to Fighter Squadron (VF) 32 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 went down in the Atlantic Ocean northwest of the Virgin Islands. Within minutes of their safe ejection, the pilot and radar intercept officer were rescued by USS Thorn (DD 988) and flown back to USS Enterprise (CVN 65) for medical examination. Neither aviator suffered injuries. The jet was returning to the carrier after a training flight when the incident occurred. Thorn, part of the Enterprise Battle Group, was serving as flight operations plane guard and immediately retrieved the downed aviators. The battle group had been conducting its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in the Puerto Rican operating area since late July 1998 and resumed full operations following the incident.
Degradation of readiness in the Inter Deployment Training Cycle (IDTC) continued in the late 1990s. It is among non-deployed forces in the IDTC where signs of readiness degradation first appear. From the IDTC readiness data for the two carrier air wings deployed in November 1998, it is readily apparent that the most recent deploying air wings experienced the most precipitous drop in readiness to date during their IDTC. VF-32 did not achieve an acceptable level of readiness until just prior to ENTERPRISE entering their theater of operations.
After spending four months in the 5th Fleet Area of Operations supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH (OSW), the Swordsmen of Fighter Squadron Thirty-Two departed the Arabian Gulf on April 27th, 2001and headed home aboard USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75). In addition to SOUTHERN WATCH, the Swordsmen have also been busy keeping their skills sharp with training flights in the Gulf and participation in an annual training exercise for the Bahraini Armed Forces. The exercise, called NEON FALCON, consisted of scenarios designed to test Bahrain's territorial defenses. Also participating were forces from the United Kingdom, United States Army, and United States Coast Guard. VF-32 aircrew enjoyed carrying out various air-to-air missions against the Bahraini Air Force F-5's and F-16's.
Swordsmen Maintenance continued to be the best in the Navy, and the men and women of VF-32 were recognized for their efforts by back-to-back awards of CVW-3's "Golden Wrench," denoting the best squadron maintenance in the air wing for February and March. To date the squadron has managed to complete 1093 out of 1098 scheduled sorties during the deployment, including 140 combat missions over Iraq in support of OSW. Types of missions performed by the multi-role F-14B Tomcat included Tactical Reconnaissance, Defensive Counter-Air, and Air-to-Ground Strike. Thanks to a superb effort by all hands, the Swordsmen enjoyed 100% sortie completion for all Joint Task Force Southwest Asia tasking, and led CVW-3 by destroying 100% of assigned targets--on time, on target, first pass--with positive BHA.
The Swordsmen made two short port calls in the Mediterranean, then turned over their duties to VF-14 and VF-41 in CVW-8 on USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) before making their final leg across the Atlantic.
In December of 2002, the Swordsmen deployed once again on board USS HARRY S.TRUMAN to the Mediterranean Sea in support of Operations NOBLE EAGLE, NORTHERN WATCH, and IRAQI FREEDOM. Employing the digital image capabilities of TARPS, VFA-32 flew numerous reconnaissance missions over the former Republic of Yugoslavia during Operation NOBLE EAGLE. Participating in liberation efforts, the Swordsmen released over 402,000 pounds of ordnance on targets in Northern Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Once again, VFA-32 set a Tomcat benchmark being the first fighter squadron to release multiple JDAM. Having contributed significantly to the liberation of Iraq, the battle hardened Swordsmen returned to Oceana in May of 2003.
January 2004 marked another historic first for the Tomcat community. VFA-32 became the first operational squadron to attempt the launch of six AIM-54 Phoenix missiles from one aircraft. A launch such as this had not been attempted since 1972. The Swordsmen succeeded, launching 5 of the 6 active radar missiles. Once again in 2004, the Swordsmen became the first Naval squadron to redeploy in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. The highly successful deployment highlighted the use of the LANTIRN in the urban CAS environment, as the Swordsmen delivered multiple precision guided munitions on insurgent hideouts. This would be their final deployment in the F-14
In October of 2005, the Swordsmen turned over their last Tomcat and started their transition in the F/A-18F Super Hornet in NAS Oceana, VA. In November of 2005, the squadron was redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron Thirty Two (VFA-32).
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